I love to interview fellow business owners. If I was to rank Mrs Mummypenny jobs, the interviews are one of the best bits. I interview business owners for my podcast, Mrs Mummypenny Talks and also have interviews on here, my website. All have this title, employed life to self-employed and today its the turn of Serena G Consulting. A marketing and Events company.
I met Serena at a Congress London Networking Event in London during 2019 and we got on immediately. We were both in a challenging place life wise and we bonded. I was so excited to see Serena set up her own business after leaving the corporate world so had to get her on here to share her story and learnings from the first year of business.
Over to Serena
How long were you in the employed world and what were you doing?
I worked in the world of employment for over 15 years, my hospitality and events career started while going through university in Adelaide, South Australia. I graduated in 2010 and soon after got a job in corporate hospitality, working in hotel sales as a Conference and Event Coordinator, later moving to Melbourne.
After 5 years of working in the Hotel World, it felt like it was time for me to gain international experience, so I moved to London. After travelling for 3 months I found a job working for the South Australian Government, Trade, and Investment Office as a Business Development (Trade) and Event Manager in the UK. I bit random; I know. It was great fun and enjoyed supporting Australian Food and Drink exports in the UK and EU.
An example my work is the 2017 Annual Dinner, a black tie event, pairing food, wine and music, promoting all things South Australian. This is one of the greatest and proudest moments in my career.
I then worked for one of the UK’s largest wine distributors as an Event Manager.
My career is a bit of a squiggly one but if I was to sum it up nicely, my passion is in the hospitality, food and drink sector and over the years I have developed a mind for business acumen, marketing and events strategy and a love for learning and drinking wine (of course) and sharing that knowledge with the curious consumer through my wine tastings.
At what point did you think, it is time to leave and go self-employed? Was there a trigger moment?
There was a moment during 2019 where I became unwell, I was off work sick and managing my mental health and when I looked to return to work, I was told my position had been made redundant. I was not ready to go back into full-time work and had always wanted to start my own business but never felt like I had enough experience or was ready to do so.
I was not ready for full time work and needed to focus on getting better and back on track and having the ability to work on my terms without any added pressure. There were many positive realisations over this time and one was that this was the universes’ way of saying start my business.
What plans did you put in place before leaving, e.g. training, saving money, building a customer base?
Financially, unfortunately, none and I do not advise this, however, I am lucky enough to have the support of my partner.
I had also built an amazing network and found myself over the years, consulting friends and family with their businesses. With this network, I was able to turn some friend’s businesses into clients and use the work I had done previously as a reference.
I found myself drawn into the freelance world very quickly and discovered communities like Congress London, AndCo and Found and Flourished, the level of support in these communities is incredible and so humbling, people want to help you and see you succeed. Word of Mouth is a powerful tool and once I started connecting, my network expanded, so did referrals and opportunities.
Tell us about your New Business
My business is Serena G Consulting LTD a Marketing and Events Agency set up with a thirst for working with Food and Drinks brands and the hospitality industry, focused on delivering fun and creative activations. Setting up my business was about bringing my career experience together in a nice package to help brands and small businesses set up their events and marketing strategy (on and offline), supporting businesses with their e-commerce strategies, work with brands create and grow a community. I host my wine tastings (on and offline) to share my expertise with the curious wine drinkers out there as well as to showcase to potential clients an example of my work.
How is your business progressing?
Starting my own business has been a humbling experience and I don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner, I am still growing and setting up a lot of foundations while finding a balance looking after my mental health and understand the capacity I can work at.
Having started in September 2019, I have worked on some great projects so far, including helping my local wine bar The Mountgrove Bothy survive in this pandemic, building them an online store, working to increase online engagement for wine retailer Helver Wines with a social media strategy, and taking on my first freelancer gig just before lockdown working with AndCo on their Community and Events strategy.
I can confidently say after nine months things are taking shape, I have learnt so much more setting up my business than I ever imagined, from the administrative side, through to self-development, it has given me so many more positive prospects. Taking the time to assemble what my business is and means to me has been very rewarding and I am very excited about the opportunities the future holds.
Can you share three business successes?
- The birth of my business – Getting started and registering my business as a Limited Company.
- Getting my first freelance contract with AndCo after not working for eight months.
- Hosting a wine tasting earlier this year to raise money for the Australian Bushfires, it was my biggest wine tasting to date and I raised over £300.
Can you share three learnings?
- Outsource business support and resources to help you set up your business. My skill set is not in law or accounting, after spending a lot of time researching I got help with my accounts and contracts. It helped me get on with working building the rest of my business. Ask them lots of questions if you are unsure and to get an understanding of basics processes and concepts. You still need to be accountable.
- Failure is not a failure in your own business it is learning. If something goes wrong, you learn from it and adapt. This is how your business grows and succeeds. So many things have not gone quite right, I learnt from it and that is what gives my business the structure and foundations it needs.
- Always end your day writing tomorrows to-do list and keep it to three things. In the beginning, my to-do list was so long and overwhelming, sometimes it still is. Breaking it down and focusing on three things sets me up to be more productive the next day. It is also a great way to set up boundaries and separate work and life.
What things do you miss about the corporate world?
- Initially, it was having some structure to my days and weeks, I am slowing starting to find that again.
- Having financial security although you do learn to live to your means.
- The prospect of your company paying for training courses, however, there are loads of free training resources out there.
- Having people around is nice too but finding a community of freelancers and small business owners to meet up with fills that void.
What things are you grateful for now that you did not have whilst employed?
So many things- flexibility to work at my own pace and to look after my health, far less anxiety and stress, building and growing my support network. I have never been a part of something quite like the freelance/small business world. There is a lot of support and people are genuinely nice!
What piece of advice would you give to someone thinking of leaving the employed world and setting up their own business?
- Just start, even if it is as a side hustle or by writing down your goals and dreams. Nothing will feel perfect, launch it. You can always make changes.
- Save yourself some money because your financial security also supports your independence and mental health.
- Find a community and dedicate yourself to one or two. There are so many out there and you can find they all share similar advice and business tools. Commit and contribute to one and you will see the benefits and rewards.
- Make yourself accountable to people. tell them what you are doing and do not be afraid to talk about it. The more you talk about it the more it will make sense and will feel right. You never know what inspiration you might find from others.
How do people find your business website, social media links?
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/serenagconsulting/
Website – https://www.serenagconsulting.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/serenagconsulting
Closing Summary from Mrs Mummypenny
An incredible story of such huge learnings and success in a nine month period. I am incredibly proud of what you have achieved Serena, and am excited to watch your business grow and grow. And to taste wine with you;-)